SHARING MAGIC WITH ALICE

The day started good. Alice is one of my grandchildren, at nine years of age she has a great interest in art and in nature. We spent a day together recently which started with us going to buy clay as that was Alice’s plan for one of our activities. But our first action was to put the hammer to a genode which my grandchildren had gifted me.  After a few knocks we were rewarded with wonderful crystals!

Before long we went into the garden, and as there are lots of wild things growing there at the moment it is naturally attracting quite a bit of wildlife so we went hunting for insects or any creatures we could spot and take pictures of. Alice was the fastest and I heard her call out in delight when she found yet another creature. She was the one spotting the Crab spider, a little white spider of which I had not seen many in our garden so far. She also noticed a curious thing to do with bees, she spotted nine bees that seem to be sucking water from moss, this on the shadow side of our steps leading into the garden proper. Never seen anything like it in my life! Delighted to see the honey bees in our garden though.

The white Crab spider (Misumena Vatia) and the Cucumber spider (Araniella Curcubitina)

Here are some of the honey bees and the moss on the steps from which they seemed to be sucking water.  Curious, and never heard of this before.

Two different types of Harvestmen (Dicranopalpus ramosus) and Saddleback Harvestman (Mitopus morio)

A most beautifully grey and black striped Flesh fly (Sacrophaga bercaea)  It is said that they deposit their larvae on meat or carrion.   They will eat decaying vegetable matter.  I learnt that the majority of this species will feed on small carrion like dead insects and snails.  I’m only reading up on this fly, never knew anything about it before.

Peacock Butterfly

Early in the morning I had a visit from a marvellous looking Peacock butterfly which I had to rescue as it had a bit of spider web on one of its legs, It flew away happily afterwards, but in the meantime it had made my day!

Common Greenbottle fly (Phaenicia sericata), a common garden spider (Araneus Diadematus), and a yellow and black ladybird.

A brown Leaf hopper (Philaenus spumarius) and a Bumblebee which I have been trying to identify but it is not easy, I was wondering if it was the Bombus pascuorum because of it orange thorax and black on its abdomen, but I am not sure about it.

After all our discoveries in the garden and our speculating what the bees were up to, we set to making some fun things in clay, it kept us being creative for a long while.

One of Alice’s craft results, and showing me one of the snails she was feeding with dandelion leaves.  She did release them in the garden before she went home again!  Well that is where they live after all.

What an enjoyable day it was, it is interesting and nice to see a young mind look at nature, ask very many questions and have respect for creatures and enjoyment from observations.

If I have any of the identifications wrong and someone spots it may I please be corrected, I would appreciate that.

 

ODE TO OUR POLLINATORS

This week has been the week that we remember and show appreciation for our pollinators.

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I read recently in the Irish Times that here in Ireland, bees are a crucial link in the supply chain of our apples, raspberries and other soft fruits. and that a third of the Irish species of bees is threatened with extinction. One can imagine what problems this will cause down the line. Personally we are having a great crop of raspberries and the pollination, as far as I have been able to observe, has been done by bumblebees. There is of course a large number of different pollinators, luckily.  I can’t resist taking photos of any wildlife I find in the garden, so here is a series of pictures taken this spring/summer of our pollinators.

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This bee was just lying there, I guess it was almost dead, but it soon revived with a little honey.

Also many other pollinators visit the gardens.

Thanks to Murtaghsmeadow’s blog for bringing Pollinators Awareness week to my attention.  This is a link to her blog.

https://murtaghsmeadow.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/a-week-in-celebration-of-pollinators

Here is another interesting link:  http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/irish-pollinator-initiative/all-ireland-pollinator-plan/

 

 

BUTTERFLIES, HONEYBEES AND THE NEIGHBOUR’S CAT

A happy Monday morning wishes to all, hope that your week has started well. My week could not have started any better when early on I woke up to glorious sunshine. I happen to glance out of the window to the front garden and the buddleia bush and there I saw the most beautiful butterflies, five different species. They were fluttering among the honeybees of which there were over half a dozen.   I stood watching them for a long time and only then thought about taking some photos and I’m glad that I did because in a way I feel that I have captured their beauty to share with so many others, and that makes me happy!

What a beautiful time of the year it is!
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This is a peacock butterfly, it is found all over Ireland. It hibernates during the winter. It’s got to be the most beautiful of the butterflies in Ireland.
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This was amazing, so many species on the one flower spike, there is the red admiral, these feed on over-ripe fruit and also in particular you see them on the buddleia bush. There is also a painted lady and a small tortoise butterfly.  Not to forget the lovely honeybee, it’s so nice to see many of these around isn’t it, knowing that they are on the decline.

Painted Lady butterfly
Painted Lady butterfly

After I had stood there for a long time watching them, there came a neighbour’s cat and she could think of nothing better to do but to try and catch the butterflies, she managed to get hold of one branch of flowers and destroyed that, but the butterflies were able to escape and of course, much as I love cats, she got chased away very quickly by me.

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MY GARDEN UPDATE ~ JULY

It has been a while since I did serious work in the garden, seeing that I had not sowed nor planted anything this season, I had let the garden be for the bees and the insects, they of course took full advantage of the wilderness, and though there were not as many insects around this summer, I was still able to find some today. I had my little helper with me all day, Ruben, my grandson, came over and we both put on our wellingtons and out we went, we soon started to pull some of the overgrown cleavers away from other plants, also some of the ivy was removed. The two cold frames were totally overgrown some of the plants were pushing up the plastic and some had grown through it! Ruben, being almost 6 and a very enthusiastic worker was lifted into the frame and soon had pulled all the ‘weeds’ out, they then went on to the compost heap. We covered the earth in one of the cold frames with comfrey leaves, that will be good for the soil.

Ian came and cut the grass so we could use this for mulching as well.  We spotted quite a few insects and I am happy to say that Ruben does not mind them at all, he is just very interested in the little creatures and seems to quite love them.  Here is one beauty sitting on the flowers of a parsley plant, there were several others on the same plant.

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Then there were all these weevils, and several different types of beetles, spiders, and caterpillars, lots of woodlouse as well. And the snails and slugs could not be counted, so many.

We have at this moment quite a few of these most beautifully scented white clover growing, I sowed them last year to improve the soil and they are giving a lovely display this summer.  They will be good for the soil.  The flowers of the parsley are quite beautiful too, they seem to attract many different insects.

And so the summer is moving along, there is more work to do, is lots to prepare before we leave for Gozo in autumn, though the garden will not be unattended while we are gone as there will be people in and out of the place all the time, still, I must make sure that when we return the garden will be ready for me to start more planting.

A SENTINEL OVER THE LAND – AND OTHER BIRD STORIES

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We have a dozen or so Rooks that come and feed at the patio and bird table during the colder months, and it’s quite an entertainment to see them busy.  All of the Crow family, there are the Rooks, black as coal but with a lovely delicate sheen on their coats.  A smaller member of the Crow family is the Jackdaw, they don’t mind the Rooks and feed together.  We also have the Hooded Crows which are very beautiful, grey and black and quite large just like the Rooks.  And lastly here we have the Magpies which also belong to the Crow family and are a very nice looking species, the sheen on their coats are is a beautiful Lapis lazuli blue.  A noisy lot of them, that is for sure, squabbling and getting quite greedy when hungry, taking several pieces of food at once in their beaks.  The beaks of the Rooks are enormous, Wow, they do look dangerous, and what with their beady eyes looking at you, they invite respect.  During breeding times in spring they bite off little twigs of the Birch tree in our garden and use them to make nests, these nests can get very large and are often done in empty chimney pots around here, the chimney sweeps know all about it.  The year we put in a stove, and had not used our chimney for some time, the chimney sweep knew of no better plan than to throw petrol down the chimney and put a light to it, it cleared the nest all right but gave my partner an awful fright as he was standing near the stove in the living room!  These members of the Crow family also seem to be good carers for their fledglings, we often see them feeding their young when the young are already quite big.  In Ireland there are still other member of the Crow family found, but not here in our neighbourhood.  Further into the mountainous area of West Cork there still are Ravens, a bird that I’d like to see more of.  And at coastal areas you will find the Chough, they are noticed by their bright orange beaks and pitch black feathers.  And there is the Jay which we don’t see here in the gardens either and he is one of the most beautiful birds of the Crow family with multi colours.

Our breakfast time is spent watching the birds as they too come for their morning food.  It is a very nice way to start the day.  Apart from the Crows we do have Doves, Finches, Tits, Sparrows, Dunnocks, Robins, Wrens, Starlings and more.  I feel very blessed to have this free wildlife around me, and it gives me immense joy to be able to feed and watch them from day to day.

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“BEAUTY SURROUNDS US” RUMI

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“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” John Keats

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“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”  Osho

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